Lord Jesus Christ,
You call us to come
To be with you,
To hear your voice
To listen deeply to your word.
By your Spirit help me
To see you,
To hear your voice,
To follow you in all of life,
In the way of God’s gracious reality.
Eighth Sunday after Pentecost
Jesus has a way of seeing through our questions into the deeper territory of our soul and being. Here he discerns where our questions come from, and what our deepest need is. It is to that need Jesus then brings his loving gaze and attention.
The lawyer in the gospel narrative brings a question to test Jesus, but at the same time reveals his own need: “What must I do to inherit eternal life?” What will make me worthy and able to receive God’s gift of eternal life? Jesus replies by asking another question, a question about what is written in the law of Moses (after all this was this man’s legal specialty). The man responds by quoting from Deuteronomy 6:5 and Leviticus 19:18, thus weaving the call to love into a three-fold relationship:
“You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your
soul, and all your strength, and with all your mind;
and your neighbor as yourself.”
The Leviticus passage (loving your neighbor as yourself) is set within guidance concerning how to see and relate to one’s neighbor: the blind, the poor, the deaf, and the wealthy and strong are all to be related to as neighbors, and so treated with respect, honesty, and fairness. One’s attitude counts and is also brought into the picture! No place is given for partiality.
On hearing the lawyer’s reply, Jesus sees beyond his intent of seeking to test and discredit, and affirms his answer:
“You have given the right answer; do this, and you will live.”
But now the lawyer is a bit caught; he knows the larger context of the Leviticus passage, and is possibly feeling a twinge of anxiety. Wanting to justify himself (something so familiar to each of us as we desire to save face), we hear him ask,
“And who is my neighbor?”
With wisdom and love Jesus now tells a story. Stories move past our legal and rational structures, the territory of the head and our human constructs. Stories enter into our soul, our inner being—the locus of our longings, our history, our learned attitudes, our fears, our deepest needs. Listen in as Jesus tells the story . . . . (read and enter prayerfully into Luke 10:30-35).
It is through this story that Jesus now turns the original question, “And who is my neighbor?” into an invitation to notice and reflect: “Which of these three do you think was a neighbor to the man who fell into the hands of the robbers?” Jesus brings the admonitions of Leviticus 19 into plain view through the lens of this narrative. When the lawyer replies, “The one who showed him mercy,” he is right. But Jesus does not say that now. Rather, Jesus offers spiritual direction to this bright and insightful seeker: “
“Go and do likewise.”
We are also invited by Jesus to reflect on our own ways of seeing and responding: with avoidance (crossing to the other side of the road), or with compassion – coming near, noticing, responding with care
What is our heart attitude, and our life response to those who are more wealthy than we are, to those who are poor, blind, deaf, disabled, needy, as well as to those who are strong and able?
In what way are we loving God with all our heart, mind, soul, strength and mind, and our neighbor as ourselves?
Eighth Sunday after Pentecost
7/8 Monday: Luke 10:25-29
7/9 Tuesday: Luke 10:30-37
7/10 Wednesday: Psalm 82
7/11 Thursday: Deuteronomy 30:9-14
7/12 Friday: Colossians 1:1-14
7/13 Saturday: Luke 10:25-28
7/14 Sunday: Luke 10:29-37